Prunus Mume prop thoughts

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Prunus Mume prop thoughts

Post by TimS » February 2nd, 2020, 8:56 pm

Last year i visited the Botanic Gardens and experienced the flowering plums, much as i had a few years previously in Japan, and i had forgotten just how good they are. From the delicate flowers on bare branches in midwinter, to the almond scent and the overall impact of seeing a mature tree in full glory i decided i needed to locate my own trees. Not necessarily for bonsai, but to have as garden trees an perhaps propagate from.

I hunted down and found P. mume 'Alboplena' a semi-double white first, followed by a single pink and finally a double pink too. during bare root season last year. I looked into propagation and found many reports of them being incredibly finicky and challenging. I found people advocating taking cuttings in autumn and storing them through winter to plant out in spring, as well as straight air layering.

My mother stock P. Mume 'Alboplena'. The double pink is the same size as this, the single pink significantly smaller.
p mume albo ms.jpg

Here are my following process and thoughts. It, like all my prop, is minimally involving and i didn't really expect anything to come from it so i have no data to back up my process.

Being late winter i didn't have those previously mentioned options, and since the general consensus was that spring cuttings did not root, i decided to take late winter cuttings before bud break using bits of the mother stock tree i wanted to cut back anyway. I exclusively used 1 year old semi-hardwood, used rooting hormone gel, and stuck them into what i think was 100mm pots filled with some well draining potting mix as well as into a commercially available mini greenhouse.

I also attempted air layers on both varieties and varying thicknesses of branches. My usual method of sphagnum moss soaked in seasol, ring-bark the tree, apply rooting hormone and cross fingers.

Here we see an example with them opening leaf in spring
prunus mume alboplena.jpg
Both the pot and the mini-greenhouse seemed to be quite successful in rooting, though if pressed to pick a preferred method i would say the pot yielded better results. Why this is i cannot say; perhaps it was situated in a better micro-climate? Perhaps the cuttings were better quality? As i say, lack of concrete data.

Here are the first stages of rooting
p mume albo roots.jpg

I had good rooting percentage with 'Alboplena' with approximately 75% success (not that many physical numbers given i only took about 20 cuttings), virtually none with single pink and a few odd double pinks rooted.

The air-layers all were failures. I think i shall try again, this time using the bridge method rather than the full ring bark.

A rainy night came along last year, and i left the cuttings in a less than ideal location, and i woke to find every single leaf on all of them had been eaten overnight. I was livid with myself, and i crossed my fingers and hoped a couple would come good.

Well a couple did, and i still have a handful of 'Alboplena' that have toughed it out and grown well. The rest departed to the big compost bin in the sky. Lesson learned, snail and slug pellets are my friend now, as well as better positioning of the plants in the first place.

As of today the few plants that remain (leaf damage still occurring)
p mume albo 220.jpg
p mume albo 22b.jpg

Going forward i plan to do a large batch of the 'Alboplena' and the Double Pink this year in late spring again to see if i can replicate my results or improve them with the late winter pre-bud swell method and see if i can put to bed the idea that cuttings taken in late winter/ early spring do not work. Perhaps I may find that for whatever reason the white is predisposed to grow from cuttings more easily, or the others are not. The next time around though i shall properly document what i do, and try to carry it out more systematically to provide more than just observational thought.

Updates to follow when the time comes
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Re: Prunus Mume prop thoughts

Post by MJL » February 3rd, 2020, 5:02 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post this Tim. I look forward to hearing more in due course and probably purchasing some of the offspring..... because I need more plants!

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